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What If We Used Paratroops To Take Schweinfurt and Regensburg in '43?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by Dook, Nov 30, 2017.

  1. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    The Allies undertook numerous raids that often were quite dangerous, but never ones that could only be described as suicide missions for those participating, certainly not on such a high scale. Only the HMS Campbeltown raid on St. Nazaire comes close where some 60% of the forces committed were killed or captured. There was however a credible escape plan and the target was at the extreme edge of the German sphere of operations, not deep into enemy held territory. The best the paratroopers could hope for is for a small number, less than 5% might ex-filtrate to Switzerland or Spain.

    Looking at a Bomber raid however would not constitute a suicide operation. Those who made it back and did not would be the luck of the draw and every pilot/gunner would have their extraction plan/route under their feet. I'm sure the hope, if not the plan called for lower casualties, but the friction of war rared it ugly head and bollixed the best laud plans.
     
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  2. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    600 men is three companies which isn't enough to scare anyone, and judging by later night drops none of them would land where they were supposed to. So, three companies scattered across many miles with just the ammo and gear they could carry would somehow form up in the dead of night and march into the city and blow up an enormous factory (with the explosives they carried on their backs) and then hold the city. I don't know why they'd want to hold the city because the allies won't arrive for two more years, but there they are. Holding. Perhaps breaking out into swing tunes now and again. And holding.
    Meanwhile, every cop, soldier on leave and home guard old timer would drop their beer and sausages to fight them. Not exactly a crack defense unit, but they'd outnumber our three companies by at least ten to one. Of course, they wouldn't know the words to any swing tunes, so the plucky airborne would have the advantage there... Still, the paratroopers would get slaughtered, and somebody would make a great movie about it after the war.

    .
     
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  3. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    You use them for training airmen for the Winter of '43/'44, which is the only thing 12 P-38's are good for. 12 P-38's is one-third of a squadron, i.e. there were NO operational squadrons in the ETO, much less a P-38 Fighter Group.

    Assuming someone did the foolish thing of sending 12 P-38's to Schweinfurt, what do you think the Luftwaffe that was powerful enough to down 77 bombers and damage another 100 would be doing? Would the Luftwaffe let them go on their merry way? And whatever of the 12 actually make the 3 hour flight to Schweinfurt intact would then have maybe 20-30 minutes over the target before they have to turn around and make the 3 hour flight back to base. The survivors then have to be serviced and rearmed before they can attempt the flight back to the target again, so you are going to get 20-30 minutes of target coverage once every 8 hours of daylight for as long (short) as any of the 12 survive. Sounds like a plan.
     
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  4. Dook

    Dook Member

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    Bombing Schweinfurt was a suicide mission. The Normandy invasion was a suicide mission for the paratroops and those who landed at Omaha. The British forces in France at the start of WW2 and ran to Dunkirk ended up on a suicide mission.

    Assuming the paratroops succeed in their mission to destroy the factories, then what? They don't just destroy the factories, they tear up the railroad tracks and end all train travel to northern Germany. They cut the phone lines and blow up the bridges. They seize the food in the city stores and they could be resupplied once a week with air drops. They could force the evacuation of the entire city population if food stores get tight.

    Also, the mission starts on Day 1 with P-38's strafing the area around the cities but the paratroops ground mission doesn't start until Day 2 at 1 am when they parachute out. So, the troops would land, attack the city, dig in, take over certain buildings, and then get reinforced that night with the mortar teams.

    Do they hold until 1945? Could be. One C-47 can transport 6,000 lbs and a can of chili weighs 1 lb so just one C-47 could air drop 6,000 cans every five days or so. That's enough for each man to get two meals a day for five days and they could supplement that with food already in the city and surrounding area.

    Do they walk home? No. They hold until relieved.
     
  5. Dook

    Dook Member

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    They wouldn't be in a formation until they neared the cities and that's only so the paratroops don't get spread all over the place. Leaving England and over the coast they would be in line.

    There's the issue with staying in formation at night? Worked for Normandy.

    Some of the paratroop units had losses of 30% just from the landing in Normandy, not from being shot down. But that's okay, right, as long as it's not deep inside Germany, because that's different.

    I should note that the first serious use of chaff was July of '43 so three weeks later is too soon? So how long does it take to realize that something works? You're saying three weeks is not long enough?

    How much chaff do I think existed and how many deployment systems? You could use Spitfires as decoys. You don't have to use chaff and the Spitfires don't have to go all the way to Schweinfurt for the night fighters to respond to incoming aircraft.

    Also, how is 20 aircraft a "massive" raid?

    There is also the issue with altitude? Depends, where are the German anti-aircraft guns? If the guns are in the city and you don't fly over the city and drop the troops a mile or two away that lessens the risk.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
  6. Dook

    Dook Member

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    I don't know what a Shooterike is you Schweinhund.
     
  7. Dook

    Dook Member

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    That should be Boys anti-tank rifle. It would only be effective against vehicles, not really effective against tanks.
     
  8. Dook

    Dook Member

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    600 men isn't enough to scare anyone? So your goal would be to terrorize the German people instead of destroying their factories, disabling the railroad lines, dropping bridges, and cutting the phone lines?

    The paratroops would be scattered? To some degree they would but they can move a mile in under 30 minutes so I don't think it's too much to expect for them to form up in under an hour.

    The paratroops would be holding, and holding, and holding the cities? So what's wrong with that? You're saying it's better to bomb the cities, lose 77 bombers, only slightly damage the factories, then allow the cities to continue using those factories, railroads, and bridges for another two years?

    The paratroops would get slaughtered? By the great troops who are so great that they are not on the front lines in Russia or Calais or Normandy?
     
  9. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I was getting doubtful until you pointed out they could get resupplied with one pound cans of chili. Would that be the kind with beans, or Texas style beanless? No matter, a man will fight long and hard with a belly full of chili, especially if it's the extra spicy.

    .
     
  10. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    I think lwd put it best, you would be wasting the Paratroopers, and it would be a very perilous and probably catastrophic journey flying over both occupied France and Germany at lower altitudes. It's safe to say that a force like that could be reduced by half it's strength before you even get to the drop zones. It also wouldn't matter what advantage the Paratroopers would initially have, they could not sustain themselves in the middle of Freaking Germany, I would be impressed if they lasted a whole 12 hours as an effective fighting force. PIAT's, Anti-tank, and other weapons would help, but not enough to take a whole German metropolis.
     
  11. Dook

    Dook Member

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    You would use P-38's to train airmen for the later war? You want to train a pilot in a two engine fighter for the future when they will get a one engine fighter?

    12 P-38's is one-third a squadron? Current US Navy squadrons have about 9-11 fighters depending on the unit. How many does it take to conduct an attack?

    What do I think the Luftwaffe would do when the P-38's go in? Sounds like a dog fight. So you're afraid of a dog fight then?

    The P-38's would only get 20-30 minutes of target coverage every 8 hours of daylight? Not if they depart England at 4:30 am and get there at 7:30 am, then depart Schweinfurt at 8 am, land in England at 11 am. They fuel, re-arm in an hour and are off again at 12 noon. Arrive at 3 pm, shoot the place up and head home at 3:30 pm.

    Wikipedia says that enough P-51's became available to the 8th and 9th Air Forces in the winter of '43-44. So, the paratroops that would be holding the cities of Schweinfurt and Regensburg could have some air support every day.
     
  12. Dook

    Dook Member

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    600 troops is not enough to take on a whole German metropolis? Regensburg is a larger city than Scwheinfurt so it might be more of a problem. The people left in those cities would be women, old men, children, and some young men. They would not rise up against professional soldiers, what weapons would they have? Even when the allies went in to Germany, other than a few cases, the citizens did not fight unless they were forced to by the German SS and I think that was only in Berlin against the Russian troops.

    The aircraft could be reduced to half? British bombers went into Germany at night and they did not suffer 50% casualties. Are you saying the Germans would somehow know the incoming aircraft were cargo aircraft carrying paratroops and not bombers so they would fight harder?

    In the last days of the war we dropped paratroops around Berlin.
     
  13. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Comparing today's modern methods of aerial warfare to WW2's is not a good idea, things have changed immensely in 70 years, and that's the Navy. Along with waasting paratroopers in this operation, using the only P-38's in the ETO available to go to the heart of Germany to support a ground effort is a very bad idea, the added weight of bombs and rockets would reduce even further the time they have over the target, and make them easier slower less agile targets to the dozens upon dozens of Luftwaffe aircraft. Along with that, the Luftwaffe night fighters would love to pick off each and every C-54 one by one because they have no armaments to defend themselves, and there were German soldiers in just about every city in Germany in the couple of hundreds. This is the last I'll say so I can let other people add their reasons as to why this is a horrible plan, The Allies wouldn't do this in 43', 44', or 45' it's simply impractical, and a grandiose waste of resources, and more importantly men's lives.
     
  14. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    I cannot decide if this is a joke to get our collective goats or serious. Holding out in the middle of....well more Southern, part of Germany for 2 years is indeed ludicrous. . Go to Google earth or any map and imagine holding out for that amount of time. Seems I remember the Germans managed to get the better part of 25 divisions together in late 44 for the Bulge and the Hurtgen Forest was moderately well defended by someone.. Don't get started on Alsace-Lorraine near the wars end... Almost forgot, late late in the war George Patton, not our George Patton, the other one, sent out a "Task Force" to rescue his son in law. I am old and forgetful, I need to go read up on how that came out ? But the German's managed to hold out in Stalingrad with air drops for sometime, if only they had gotten Texas chilie.

    Dang, almost forgot. In the multiyear visit, the troops could learn German, learn to sew uniforms, and slipped away to Switzerland and got some sailing in on Lake Geneva.!!
    Seriously, I throughly enjoyed this thread. Where is urg when we need him ?

    Gaines
     
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  15. Dook

    Dook Member

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    This operation would "waste" paratroops? What if the 600 paratroops were able to destroy the factory, tear up a quarter mile of railroad tracks and toss them from the bridges into the middle of the river, then drop all the bridges, cut the phone lines, and then fight for two weeks until the remaining 100 men were captured? Is that still a waste?

    The second mission to bomb Schweinfurt in October cost another 60 aircraft with another 17 bombers that had to be scrapped, and 121 others damaged. So sending 600 paratroops is a "waste" but losing all of those aircraft and 650 men on the second mission is not a waste?

    Okay, so I have you guys figured out. Your agenda is that the airmen are more expendable than the ground troops.

    The added weight of bombs and rockets on a P-38 makes them less agile in a dog fight? The first thing a fighter does is drop any bombs if it is intercepted by enemy fighters. There's no way it can dogfight with a bomb load. And, I wouldn't send them in loaded with bombs. Their forward guns would be enough.

    The Luftwaffe would love to pick off each and every C-54 because they have no armament? So you're saying the Luftwaffe would somehow know they were C-54's? How would they know?

    There were German soldiers in every German city by the hundreds? First rate troops or were they old men?

    The allies wouldn't do this in '43, '44, or '45? They used paratroops in Normandy in '44. Are you saying that Normandy was not defended? And the allies used paratroops in Market Garden and in Berlin in '45.

    This idea is a grandiouse waste of resources? But sending in two bombing missions is the right thing to do?
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
  16. Dook

    Dook Member

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    Okay, I went to Google earth, where does it say that 600 paratroops could not destroy the factory at Schweinfurt?

    And, the mission is not to hold the city for two years, if that happens then that's just icing on the cake. The mission is to destroy the factory, tear up the railroad, cut the phone lines, and drop the bridges, and hold the cities as best you can.

    The Germans formed 25 divisions in late 44 for the Battle of the Bulge? What happened to the troops they captured?

    So you think it's better to lose the B-17's and aircrews instead of the paratroops?
     
  17. Dook

    Dook Member

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    Okay, so now that I have your guys agenda figured out I need to know the values. Since you all think a paratrooper is worth more than an airman, what is the value?

    Is one airman worth half a paratrooper?

    And what is one B-17 worth? Is it equal to one paratrooper?

    Also, you guys think that whenever paratroops are used they have to get home soon, so, what is the maximum duration of any mission they can be used on?
     
  18. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    Just make sure they don't get canned beans. That would fall under chemical warfare, which is against the Geneva convention....



    I would like to personally appeal to Herr Otto to keep the OP as a member here. The entertainment value is unparalleled. Better than shooterike.... 10/10, would read again.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
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  19. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    This thread is brought to you by
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  20. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    If, the paratroopers managed to regroup and attack the factory, unless they had a vast amount of explosives with them (I mean a crud ton, like you need 20 or more men to plant and charge....that is if they aren't dead already) then there is no way they could cause significant damage to a huge ball-bearing factory like the one in Schweinfurt. By that point I would imagine that there would be too few troopers left to be effective at destroying much of anything else. Yes, fighters jettisoned their drop tanks, and any bombload they had when engaging bogeys, but if caught by surprise, and there is no time to serpentine and safely jettison the payload, there goes a few 38's. As for ground support, 20mm and 50 cal's would help, but a few rockets and 500 or 250IB pounds would be much more effective at decimating infantry. Paratroopers are not meant to take entire cities and hold them for years waiting to be relieved, Bomber's are meant to strike at strategic places that would be impractical, suicidal, and impossible for any infantry or special units to destroy or take. As for Normandy and Market Garden, the Paratroopers were not used to take whole cities, they were given easier more manageable objectives (Bridges, towns not cities) and they had a support of a few hundred thousand other soldiers at most 50km away, not in the middle of Germany.
     

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